Welcome to the Sixth edition of Shakati Bush Facts. In the article, we will be focusing on Shakati Private Game Reserve being Birder friendly. Shakati private Game reserve is committed to the preservation of all wildlife, and promoting the conservation of our feathered friends.

Due to the importance of being a Birder friendly establishment, we decided to expand this article to include where Shakati fits in with Birder Friendly Routes.

Shakati Private Game reserve has prolific birdlife, one of the highest bird diversities in the Waterberg with over 260 confirmed types of birds (Refer to Shakati Bird List for a full list of our birds to date)

White Crested Helmet Shrike (19)

White Crested Helmet Shrike – Photograph by Johan Fourie

What is a Birder friendly Establishment?

A Birder friendly establishment is an establishment which promotes the conservation of wildlife, nature and especially birds. Shakati adheres to the following criteria of a Birder friendly establishment:

  • Reference Material Available on site
  • Promotion of Bird, Wildlife and Nature conservation
  • Availability of a comprehensive Bird List (Shakati Bird List )
  • Join our reserve manager, who is a keen birder or game/bird drives
  • Do your own birding trips
  • Camera friendly reserve
  • Birding hide at the watering hole
  • Provision of binoculars (if you have forgotten it)
  • Located in the Waterberg Biosphere attracts a great diversity of birds and bird species
  • Promotion of Avitourism

There are no quad bikes or motor bikes allowed on the reserve, as these causes noise pollution, but we prefer the tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker engine or the choir of bush birds early in the morning,

Spotted Flycatcher (10)

Spotted Flycatcher – Photograph by Johan Fourie

Why is Birdlife conservation important?

The Waterberg Biosphere where Shakati resides, is the ideal place to see 11 threatened bird species, and is extremely important to have birder friendly establishments where these threatened birds can prosper and thus promote biodiversity conservation. Some of the threatened bird species, which occurs in the Waterberg Biosphere), according to the Red Data List includes the white-backed night heron (Gorsachius leuconotus) and the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres). Thus it is most important to create safe havens for these threatened or near threatened birds.

Shikra (8)

Shikra- Photograph by Johan Fourie (Taken from Chalet Window)

Shakati is committed to Birdlife Conservation

Shakati is committed to Birdlife Conservation by the identification of birds, creation of a safe haven for birds (threatened or non-threatened) and promotion of Avitourism.

Kurrikane Thrush (24)

Kurrikane Thrush – – Photograph by Johan Fourie

Where does Shakati Fit in with Birder Friendly Routes?

Waterberg Birding Route

Shakati Private Game reserve falls in the middle of the Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route. Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route stretches from Bela-Bela in the south to north of Lepalale and covers the Waterberg Mountains and the Waterberg Biosphere. Thus, Shakati Private Game reserve is the ideal place to base for your Birding adventures.

According to Birdlife South Africa (, this area contains the largest inland flood plain in South Africa, and is the only place in Limpopo where you can see the rare Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, as well as the Blue Crane, Barrow’s Korhaan and Stanley’s Bustards and has the largest Cape Vulture breeding colony in the country. (

Note: The following information were sourced from (

The Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route consists of four different birding areas:

  • Arid West: The Arid west consists of a mixture of Kalahari and mixed bushveld, which is home to a great diversity of bird species. These species includes Kalahari Scrub-robin, Pied Babbler, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and Marico Flycatchers, Pel’s Fishing Owls and White-backed Night heron, Great Sparrow, Black-cheeked Waxbill and Violet-eared Waxbill can be found here as well. Some of the Birder Friendly establishments includes:
    • Madeline Robinson: owned by the Anglo-Platinum mine, is one of the best places in the country to see the Yellow-throated Sandgrouse
      Koedoeskop: The farm roads around the Koedoeskop between the R510 and the R511 up to Thabazimbi offer some excellent birding
    • Rust de Winter Dam: It offers good bushveld and broadleaved woodland birding as well as a good diversity of water birds
    • Zaagkuildrift and Kgomo Kgomo: This dirt road follows the Pienaars River and after about 15 km end at the Kgomo Kgomo floodplain where the Pienaars, Plat and Tshwane rivers meet
    • Atherstone Game Reserve: This 23,500 ha reserve is in the southwestern corner of the province. There is a good mix of habitats and the reserve has a bird list of over 300 species
      D’Nyala Nature Reserve: This 8,000 ha reserve is 10 km out of Lephalale and has a small floodplain of the Tambotie River
  • Nylsvley Floodplain: which is the largest inland floodplain, which stretches 16 000 hectares. Interesting Fact: This floodplain floods every 3-4years. The Nylsvei floodplain has been registered on the RAMSAR site due to its importance. There are 365 bird species identified there, which consists of at least 104 water birds. Some of the Birder Friendly establishments includes:
    • Doorndraai Dam: large dam in the foothills of the Waterberg between Mookgophong (Naboomspruit) and Mokopane (Potgietersrus)
      Moordrift: 40 km’s from Nylsvley on the banks of the Nyl River near Mokopane
    • Nylsvley Nature Reserve: RAMSAR site is a unique seasonal flood plain that is the largest and most intact in the country
  • Waterberg Fringes: The Waterberg fringes are the southern and eastern areas surrounding the Waterberg Mountains. The Waterberg fringes contain woodlands and thornveld. You can easily spot the following birds in the crossover areas close to the Pienaar’s river: Pied Babbler, Tinkling Cisticola, White-bellied Korhaan and Meyer’s Parrot. Some of the Birder Friendly establishments includes:
    • Masabe Community Nature Reserve: This reserve in the far north-eastern part of the Waterberg has some of the most amazing scenery anywhere in the province
    • Telekishi Trail: Telekishi Community close to Masebe have started a three hour trail that takes in various archaeological sites and traverses the escarpment
    • Leeupoort Town / Leeukrans Restaurant: This little town is run as a suburb of Thabazimbi but is located in the bushveld, 40 km from the town, surrounded by a game reserve.
    • The Mabula Ground Hornbill Research & Conservation Project: This project was set up in 1999 on Mabula to harvest wild second chicks, that always die in the nest, for hand-rearing, and on fledging release them with the existing group to learn to forage, about predators and the complicated social structure of these co-operative breeders
  • Waterberg Plateau: The Waterberg Plateau consists of a large area with very diverse habitats, these habitats includes bushveld areas, broad-leaved woodland, rocky hills and wooded valleys along permanent rivers. The Waterberg Plateau contains diverse bird species due to the different types of habitats, and is the ideal area to view and find many bird species
    • Marakele National Park: This wonderful national park is 30 kilometres northeast of Thabazimbi and covers 45,000 ha of the Southern Waterberg.
    • Mokolo Dam: This 2,000 ha conservancy in the Waterberg mountains has a wide range of habitats, from wetlands to cliffs, it can all be found on this property
    • Shakati Private Game Resrve: 625 hectares of briding heaven, where you are free to discover over 260 types of birds
    • Palala River Bridge: The Palala River can be birded from this point where it is dammed by a weir to the west of the bridge. Sunrise and early mornings is the best time to do birding in this area especially if looking for African Finfoot and Little Bittern
    • Alma / Rankin’s Pass Area: You can also travel through the area on the public dirt roads and have good roadside birding
    • Waterberg Montane Grasslands: This private cattle farm is the breeding area for a pair of Blue Cranes. This vast farm is mainly covered by tall montane grasslands
    • Bateleur Nature Reserve: This 2,000 ha conservancy in the Waterberg mountains has a wide range of habitats, from wetlands to cliffs, it can all be found on this property
    • Bokpoort Dam: This small dam, just north of Mookgophong, is covered with water lilies and so provides a perfect habitat for Pygmy Goose

Which Birder friendly areas do we suggest?

We recommend the following Birder friendly establishments:

  • Shakati Private Game reserve
  • Marakele National Park (1½ hour away from Shakati, nice day trip from Shakati) where you on the top have several endemic species of birds
  • Nylsvely RAMSAR site (birding area of international importance so called IBA) also 2½ hour from Shakati

Where can you see the most of Shakati’s Birds?

At the chalets (in our garden): Its it common to wake up in the mornings to the sinning African Paradise Flycatchers, or hearing the chattering of the Green Wood Hoopoe. When you look closely you can see the Groundscraper and Kurricane thrush family scanning for easily identified morsels. In the summer months there is as well a Red-Headed Weaver which tries to impress his wife with building a one story mansion of a nest. At night you can be amazed at the creepy sounds of the Barn Owl and the Spotted Eagle Owl. If you are adventurous then you can try to spot the Fiery-necked Nightjar’s with a flashlight.

Watering hole: Frequent visitors to the watering holes are the African Grey Hornbills, African Hoopoes, Crested Barbets, LarkLike Bunting and the White Crested Helmet Shrike. If you have the patience then you will be able to spot over myriad types of birds which come to quench their thirst throughout the whole day.

Mokolo River: Shakati lies on the banks of the Mokolo River, where you can easily spot common birds like the African Darter, Goliath and Purple Heron. And if you are very lucky then you can see the majestic African Fish Eagle.

Green Woodhoepoe (4)

Green Woodhoepoe  – – Photograph by Johan Fourie


At Shakati your birding experience and enjoyment will exceed your wildest dreams as Shakati is situated uniquely in the bushveld, in the Waterberg Biosphere and next to a river. Thus you will have a myriad of birding opportunities and experiences.

Be sure to bring your binoculars, camera and zoom lens to be able to capture a glimpse of the prolific birdlife on our farm. We definitely comply and will exceed your expectations for catering for birders.

See you soon




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